An acknowledged feature of the late nineteenth-century reinvigoration of theatre is the frequency with which new styles of writing – and, more often, innovative themes – affronted the public, both in print and performance. Yet the turbulent initial audience reactions to taboo- and ground-breaking plays have often been represented as self-evident confrontations between progressive creative artists and philistine theatregoers. By closely examining one apparently typical case of resistance to the new drama – the uproar at the 1889 premiere in Berlin of Gerhart Hauptmann's Before Sunrise – Neil Blackadder demonstrates the complex relationship between production and reception in the early modern theatre. He considers the behaviour of one offended spectator in particular, along with the response of the independent theatre society which staged the production, and a court's verdict on the validity of his protests. Beyond marking an important turning-point in the history of German theatre, the premiere of Before Sunrise encapsulates several key facets of the modern theatre during a period when its practitioners were becoming more bold and experimental, while changing norms of conduct were, paradoxically, rendering audiences more restrained. Neil Blackadder is Assistant Professor of the Practice of Drama at Duke University, curently visiting at Knox College. He is writing a book on modern theatre scandals.